Michel Abu Najm
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on : Tuesday, 16 Jul, 2013
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FSA says Al-Qaeda to announce Islamic state in Syria

Europeans now believed unlikely to arm Syrian opposition

Citizen journalism image provided by Edlib News Network, ENN, and authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, shows rebels from Al-Qaeda affiliated Jabhat al-Nusra, as they sit on a truck full of ammunition at Taftanaz air base. Friday, Jan. 11, 2013. (AP Photo/Edlib News Network ENN, File)

Citizen journalism image provided by the Edlib News Network, ENN, and authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, shows rebels from the Al-Qaeda affiliated Al-Nusra Front as they sit on a truck full of ammunition at Taftanaz air base on Friday, January 11, 2013. (AP Photo/Edlib News Network ENN, File)

Beirut, Asharq Al-Awsat—A senior figure in the Free Syrian Army (FSA) has told Asharq Al-Awsat that Al-Qaeda was about to announce an Islamic state in northern Syria.

The source, who preferred to remain anonymous, said the time for the announcement was confirmed to be the first day of Eid, at the end of Ramadan, and that “the Bab El-Hawa and Harem border points are the main targets, the first to control arms and ammunition supplies, and the second to raise funds by smuggling crude oil.”

He said: “The implementation of this plan started last week with the killing of Commander Fadi El-Qash and his brother in Dana village, followed by the killing of senior member of the Supreme Command Council, Kamal Hamami, and will be followed by more assassinations of officers and important figures in the FSA.”

The sources confirmed that “the FSA circulated this information within limited, trusted circles as soon as it became available, and will avoid any confrontation that could weaken the rebels in their fight against the government forces.”

He claimed that the FSA was currently “deploying units and erecting checkpoints in towns that will be targeted according to the plan, and strengthen our presence in these towns to stop them becoming prey to the Islamic state.”

Meanwhile, the FSA source said “we will try to sit down and talk to the Islamic state if we find someone who listens, in order to avoid bloodbaths and clashes which would reflect negatively on the fight against the government forces.”

He added, however, that “whatever we do, there will definitely be war between us.”

The BBC reported on Tuesday that the FSA, following the killing of Hamami, said: “The Islamic state had threatened to kill all of the other members of the Supreme Military Council, another sign of the escalating struggle within the armed uprising.”

In another development, EU foreign ministers are expected to discuss the arming of Syrian rebels in a meeting in Brussels on July 22. However, hopes are fading for the two main players in this issue, France and Britain, will play a decisive role towards arming the opposition.

Diplomatic sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that “the first of August, the date when European arms are supposed to reach the opposition, will not change anything regarding the situation on the ground today,” adding that “Paris and London will not provide the arms requested by the opposition,” especially the anti-armor missiles and mobile air defense systems.

In the meantime, the Syrian opposition has announced plans to name a president for the interim government to replace Ghassan Hitto, who resigned last March. The new president will be announced after Ramadan.

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